Intensive, exemplary reportage on a controversial industry cloaked in scandal.

BIG VAPE

THE INCENDIARY RISE OF JUUL

A deep investigative dive into the electronic cigarette behemoth.

In this riveting exposé, Time health and science journalist Ducharme chronicles the history and problematic future of Juul, which quickly rose to prominence after a series of missteps. She profiles friends and former smokers James Monsees and Adam Bowen, who, during a 2005 Stanford product-design program, sought to develop an alternative to traditional tobacco-burning cigarettes. Focusing on harm reduction, they positioned their prototype as a way to “improve the lives of adult smokers” by helping them transition to the supposed safety of vaporizing pens, which heat a liquid but avoid combustion. Piggybacking on lessons from earlier, less-successful vaping devices, Monsees and Bowen, aided by Japanese investors, laid the groundwork for a successful venture—but not without a host of problems that did not go unnoticed by the Food and Drug Administration and would reemerge later to cloud their success. With briskly paced writing, Ducharme details the “buzz-testing” conducted by Juul employees to gauge the addictive potency of the nicotine formulations in the vape pods and how the “cool kids”–friendly product marketing campaign became “the company’s religion.” As the author writes, "more news stories suggested that Juul had torn a page from the Big Tobacco playbook and purposely hooked teenage customers for profit." By 2015, Juul vaporizers were widespread, and the company started to record significant profits. However, when reports of underage users emerged, Juul dispatched representatives to schools to warn about the dangers of nicotine, “sprinkling in references to how safe Juul was and how it was going to get FDA approval any day now.” Juul then partnered with big tobacco corporation Altria, and the emergence of a mysterious pulmonary illness ignited anti-vaping activists and public health watchdogs. In the wake of hundreds of lawsuits set to hit courtrooms in 2022, both Monsees and Bowen have “abandoned ship.” Based on dozens of interviews with former employees, investors, doctors, and researchers, this well-rounded journalistic narrative is consistently informative and alarming.

Intensive, exemplary reportage on a controversial industry cloaked in scandal.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-77753-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A fiery, eloquent call to action for White men who want to be on the right side of history.

LETTERS TO MY WHITE MALE FRIENDS

A Black man speaks hard truths to White men about their failure to dismantle systemic racism.

A “child of the Black bourgeoisie,” journalist Ross first learned “the shadow history of Black revolutionary struggle” in college. He accepted that he “directly benefited from the struggle that generations of Black folks had died in the name of, yet I wasn’t doing anything to help those who hadn’t benefited.” The author calls the White men of his generation, Gen X, to also recognize their complicity and miseducation. “We were fed cherry-picked narratives that confirmed the worthlessness of Black life,” he writes, “The euphemistic ‘culture of poverty,’ not systemic oppression, was to blame for the conditions in which so many Black people lived.” The story that White people have been told about Black people is “missing a major chapter,” and Ross thoroughly elucidates that chapter with a sweeping deep dive into decades of American social history and politics that is at once personal, compelling, and damning. Through a series of well-crafted personal letters, the author advises White men to check their motivations and “interrogate the allegedly self-evident, ‘commonsense’ values and beliefs” that perpetuate inequality and allow them to remain blissfully unaware of the insidiousness of racism and the ways they benefit from it. Ross condemns the “pathological unwillingness to connect the past with the present” and boldly avoids the comfortable “both sides” rhetoric that makes anti-racism work more palatable to White people. “It is on you,” he writes, “to challenge the color-blind narratives your parents peddle.” The letters are consistently compelling, covering wide ground that includes the broken criminal justice system, gentrification, and the problem with framing equity work as “charity.” Finally, Ross offers practical guidance and solutions for White men to employ at work, in their communities, and within themselves. Pair this one with Emmanuel Acho’s Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man.

A fiery, eloquent call to action for White men who want to be on the right side of history.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-27683-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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